Longtime friends Rachel Kimel and Deena DelZotto have a passion for growing food and giving back to the community. Their joint love for food prompted them to start the Bowery Project, an organization that takes vacant lots in downtown Toronto and transforms the properties into mobile urban farms.
“The developer here, Oben Flats, wanted to do something that gave back to the community and that transformed his site,” said co-founder Rachel Kimel.
“People come and they learn new things and they walk away with something fresh, organically grown and sustainable.”
Currently there are three sites in Toronto growing produce in re-purposed milk crates that sit above the land. This allows for an easy change of location when the land is sold or developed.
“It’s like a pop-up mobile farm,” said Kimel. “There’s something called square-foot gardening and so whatever you can occupy in a crate, we do. Herbs, veggies, edible flowers, lots of greens, mixed greens.”
Several community organizations like the Native Women’s Resource Centre benefit from what’s grown on the sites and from the weekly programming and educational workshops.
“Every year from a site this big (at Sherbourne Street and Gerrard Street East), we grow at least 400 pounds of produce and that gets given away to people who are hungry in the city,” said Kimel.